Posted by: SJS | March 15, 2011

New book by Frank Morris

I am thrilled to let you know about the publication of a new book by my uncle, Frank Morris, entitled “The 8-Toed Octogenarian: One man’s journey through the 20th century.”  Frank is the husband of my mother’s sister, Helen, and they live in Camp Hill, PA.  Beginning with his childhood in the Olney section of Philadelphia, the book tells the story of a man who embraced life with an inexhaustible storehouse of energy, a relentless curiosity, and a sense of humor that was a gift straight from the hand of God.  When Frank asked me to provide him with editorial assistance and told me the working title of his book, there was no way I could refuse.

 Frank Morris and Red Stahley were the husbands of the two eligible O’Neill sisters.  Since the oldest of the O’Neill girls, Peggy, became a Franciscan nun, there were only two girls remaining-Rita and Helen.  The competition was fierce.  Frank and Red emerged as the winners.  In addition to their brides, they instantly received five brothers-in-law and a mother-in-law and a father-in-law from Ireland.  Frank and Red were surrounded by O’Neills.  They became totally immersed in the churning drama of this large, ambitious, and complex Irish family.  It is no wonder that Frank and Red became such close friends.
Red & Frank '55

Red Stahley & Frank Morris

In addition to the pure joy of assisting Frank with his manuscript, I was inspired to go to work on my father’s WWII career because of his book.  During his service in the Army in WWII, Frank was assigned to the Burma theatre where he served on the security detail for the legendary American general, Joseph “Vinegar Joe” Stillwell.  Under Stillwell’s leadership, the Allied forces constructed the famous Burma Road, a major route for supplies and troops in advancing the campaign against Japan.  Frank’s powerful narrative about his military career made a profound impact on me.

Frank and Helen were the parents of our seven Morris cousins: Michael, Frankie, Rob, Ed, Bernadette, Dan, and Tommy.  When we were with that set of cousins, the fun and the laughter had no limits.  And it remains like that today.  Frank also coached little league football and I was on those teams with Michael, Frankie, and Rob.  His influence on my life  has been huge and enduring. 

Frank’s book is available through the publisher, iUniverse.  It is also available through Barnes & Noble.  Since I’ve been promoted to “Editor in Chief,” I am now pushing Frank to get busy on volume 2.  There may also be a screenplay in the works.  Casting decisions will be challenging.  Frank expressed his preference for Charlie Sheen as the actor in the lead role.  We’ll keep you posted.


  1. Steve,

    I am continuing to enjoy your blog. You and your family have done a very impressive job with the website and blog. Your uncle Frank’s book sounds very interesting. I always enjoy a good book, and will pick-up a copy from Barnes & Noble.


    • Aneise,

      Thanks very much for the support. My uncle’s engagement in every facet of his life has served as a real example for me. He loves his family, he loves to write, and he loves to laugh. His ability to live each day to the fullest has been an inspiration to many.


  2. Steven, our family muse,
    Thank you for giving so much of your time to my father regarding the making of this book. I mean “The” book, the one that never leaves his hand, the milestone, the manifesto.

    My father had a freelance business at one time called “Bounty Associates” and the logo was a man at a ship’s wheel. I asked him why (since we lived in Central PA) he chose that image? He answered that it was about taking fate into your own hands.

    Steven, As you know, it took many of us to row this boat (the book) to shore, but it never wavered from it’s course. I do believe we worked for a time for a “Phantom Bounty” in the making of this book. Blessing all around. bern

    • Bern,

      The pleasure was all mine. Thanks for your kind words of support. You have been the “unsung hero” of this venture, tending to a million details behind the scenes to ensure that the final published product would be elegant and beautiful. Countless times your father mentioned to me how your creative efforts had improved the visual appeal of the text. Our teamwork has really paid off.


  3. Dear Stephen,
    Yes, the size and ‘star power’ of the talented O’Neill clan does create strong bonds among the “out-laws!”

    Here are two links for Frank’s book:

    Some enterprising Amazon marketer has “2 used copies” for only an extra $4.00 (!)
    and it’s also available half price as an Ebook.

    Two Questions:
    1.) Can anyone describe how Helen got her PhD with seven kids?

    2.) How tall was Red? Stature could be a factor in screenplay casting 😉
    (and I heard that Charlie is open to playing Frank.)

    Nancy FitzGerald-O’Neill

  4. Nancy,

    Wow, that’s amazing news about Frank’s book! If it has already made it to the “used copies” category, the movie version cannot be far behind. And since “Good Time” Charlie has already expressed interest in playing Frank, we’re ready to go into production.

    Red stood five feet, four-and-a-half inches tall. Casting considerations include Mickey Rooney and Paul Giamatti. Brad Pitt, maybe, but it’s a longshot.

    How Helen got a PhD with seven kids is a question I’ll have to leave to the Morris clan to answer.

    Thanks for your continued support.


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